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Make prompt payment of royalties to mining communities - Chamber of Mines CEO

BY: Vincent Amenuveve & Kadmiel Kweifio-Okai
Emmanuel Baidoo (left), Senior Manager, Sustainability  of AngloGold Ashanti Ghana Limited, interacting with Sulemanu Koney (right), CEO of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, at a symposium in Accra. With them is Prof. Dr Lawrence Lowell (2nd from right), Executive Director of Cedi Ghana. Picture: GABRIEL AHIABOR
Emmanuel Baidoo (left), Senior Manager, Sustainability of AngloGold Ashanti Ghana Limited, interacting with Sulemanu Koney (right), CEO of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, at a symposium in Accra. With them is Prof. Dr Lawrence Lowell (2nd from right), Executive Director of Cedi Ghana. Picture: GABRIEL AHIABOR

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Sulemanu Koney, has called on the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and other relevant institutions to ensure that royalties and other funds meant for the direct benefit and development of mining communities are paid on a regular basis into the Minerals Development Fund (MDF).

Describing the situation where the release of the funds delay as “not healthy”, he noted that his checks revealed that for the whole of this year, funds had not been paid into the MDF, as required.

He stressed that the GRA, the Ministry of Finance and the Minerals Income Investment Fund (MIIF) office should make sure that the funds were immediately released to the MDF for the accelerated development of the beneficiary communities.

“After close of work or business, it is expected that funds will be paid into the MDF immediately or the next day, but, unfortunately, it is not happening and it is a major issue which calls for concern, especially for those of us who have the mining communities at heart and advocated the establishment of the MDF," Mr Koney said.

He made the call at a development partnership symposium in Accra yesterday.

Socio-economic development plan

The symposium was aimed at exploring partnership opportunities for implementing the 10-year Socio-Economic Development Plan (SEDP) of the AngloGold Ashanti Obuasi Mine.

A wide range of stakeholders, including bilateral agencies, the private sector, foundations and development non-governmental organisations, attended the event.

The MDF, the Act

Explaining the purpose for the establishment of the MDF, Mr Koney said it was a public fund set up by Act 912 of Parliament in 2016.

The source of the fund is principally 20 per cent of mineral royalties that are received by the GRA on behalf of the Republic.

These are gained from holders of mining leases in respect of their mining operations. Parliament may also release money approved by Parliament for the fund.

Other sources of the fund are grants, donations, gifts and voluntary contributions. The MDF may also be financed by money that may become lawfully payable to the fund.

The act also permits MDF money to be accrued from investments made by the board.

Also, the fund is to provide financial resources for the direct benefit and advantage of mining communities and all mining-associated individuals and entities interested in land within a mining community.

It is also to equip traditional and local government authorities, such as the various metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) within a mining community, to carry out their mandates.

It is anticipated that the MDF will generally promote sustainable mining in various areas through the implementation of the Mineral Development Scheme (MDS).

Benefits of fund

Mr Koney pointed out that the MDS, when effectively implemented, would, among other things, help address the harmful effects of mining on affected communities and persons.

It would also enable local economic development projects and alternative livelihood projects in communities affected by mining activities, he said.

Challenge

Mr Koney emphasised that the funds needed to be released in “a timely manner” to complement what the various mining companies were doing as part of their respective corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes.

“The various MMDAs cannot speak for themselves, for various reasons, but they are starved of the needed funds to execute their mandate," he indicated.

Migration, timelines

The Chamber of Mines CEO further observed that due to the lack of resources, it would be difficult to execute projects on schedule, resulting in the escalation in project costs.

“We have been complaining about the poor state of mining communities; it is, therefore, important to implement and operationalise the MDF to ensure that the funds are ploughed back into the mining communities," he said.

He intimated that when the required resources were channelled into the development of mining communities, it would ensure that rural-urban migration would be curbed.

Development plan

The Managing Director of AngloGold Ashanti Ghana Limited, Eric Asubonteng, said the mining firm developed the 10-year SEDP as a social investment strategy to contribute to resilient and socio-economically self-sustaining communities.

It, therefore, prioritised the mine's host communities and the traditional capitals of paramount and divisional stools to which the host communities belonged, he said.

He said the long-term SEDP was developed after the Social Management Plan ended in 2021.

Presentations

The Planning officers of the Obuasi Municipal and the Obuasi East District assemblies, Joseph Bashir Asibi and Jones Agyemang, respectively, made presentations on the socio-political context of Obuasi.

The Senior Manager of Sustainability of the AngloGold Ashanti Obuasi Mine, Emmanuel Baidoo, also gave an overview of the SEDP plan and what was expected from other partners to help sustain the development of mining communities.